Friday, June 5, 2009

New York State Catholics: Act Now to Stop the Markey Bill!

Act Now to Stop the Markey Bill!

The New York State Assembly is scheduled to vote within the next several days on a bill that would suspend for one year the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits related to child sexual abuse. The bill would allow for lawsuits against the Catholic Church and other institutions dating back decades. It has now been amended to include public institutions as well. While this makes the application of the bill fairer, it is no less detrimental to the Church and will now also financially devastate public school districts and other public institutions.

The bill currently exists in two very similar forms. In either case, it would allow for new lawsuits against public school districts, cities, towns and municipalities, churches, not-for-profits and businesses for claims going back several decades. Such claims can be impossible to defend because the accused are often long dead, as are anyone who may have been in a supervisory capacity. As a result, it would encourage the filing of false claims against teachers, doctors, clergy and others from long ago.

Please contact your Assembly member immediately by sending the the prewritten message HERE and tell him or her to vote NO on A.8739 or A.2596 (as amended), both sponsored by Margaret Markey. The message is fully editable except for the required text in the first paragraph.
If the link does not work, just go to and click Take Action Now.

Edited to add: 'Hat tip' to the Diocese of Buffalo

Following is a statement from Richard E. Barnes, executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference, regarding the amendments to a bill sponsored by Assembly Member Margaret Markey (D-Maspeth) that would suspend the civil statute of limitations for claims related to child sexual abuse in New York State :

“After several years of denying the fact that her bill would exempt public institutions, Mrs. Markey has now acknowledged that her original bill did just that. However, even this amended bill remains terrible public policy for the state.

“For several years, the Catholic Conference has opposed Mrs. Markey’s bill for several reasons, namely that statutes of limitation exist in law for a good reason and that it is impossible to defend decades-old claims; that the bill could seriously impact the ability of the Catholic Church and other not-for-profits to provide health care, social services and education programs to the citizens of the state; and, finally, that because the bill only applied to private institutions and not to public institutions where the majority of non-familial abuse occurs, it is inherently unfair.

“In our opposition, we have been very clear that a legitimate debate on the merits of this bill could not occur until all institutions, including public, were included. The Assemblywoman has now announced her intention to do just that. This amended proposal will therefore impact not only the Catholic Church and non-profit sector but also public school districts, public health care institutions, state agencies, counties, cities and towns, as well as their insurers.

“Mrs. Markey and her supporters have stated that Catholic clergy account for only 2 percent of sexual abuse cases. In California , a “window” bill aimed at the Church resulted in some $1.3 billion in settlements from Catholic entities. It is therefore likely that Mrs. Markey’s bill could easily result in hundreds of billions of dollars in settlements against all entities, public and private, in every corner of our state. Clearly, such staggering numbers make this legislation a matter of grave consequence and intense public interest.”

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